Celebrate Christmas this year at Chester Zoo with a host of activities including the popular Lantern Magic, Christmas dinner at Oakfield House and a Wild Winter experience.

Lantern Magic offers visitors a special opportunity to take a late-night trip through the zoo, journey past a host of animal illuminations, including penguins, elephants and tigers and spot Santa on his sleigh.

Lantern Magic at Chester Zoo
Lantern Magic at Chester Zoo

Inspired by the larger-than-life animal lanterns children will also have the opportunity to get creative and make their very own version to take home.

Youngster Harry, aged three, from the Wirral, with mum Jenny Osborne, decorating their lantern
A young Harry, aged three, decorates his lantern with mum Jenny Osborne at last year's event

Managing director Jamie Christon said: “Lantern Magic is a magical, after hours experience that lets visitors explore the zoo after dark.

“Friends and families will use their very own glowing lanterns to light the way through our beautiful gardens and past our larger-than-life animal illuminations. There’ll also be the chance to catch a glimpse of Santa as he drives through the zoo on his sleigh.

“This event has been a magnificent addition to the zoo in previous years and, being bigger and better than ever before this time around, it’s sure to deliver a heart-warming experience for all of the family.”

When can you catch Lantern Magic?

Lantern Magic will light up the zoo on the following dates throughout December 2015:

  • Friday, December 4, Saturday, December 5 and Sunday, December 6
  • Friday, December 11, Saturday, December 12 and Sunday, December 13
  • Friday, December 18, Saturday, December 19 and Sunday, December 20
  • Monday, December 21, Tuesday, December 22 and Wednesday, December 23

Other events at Chester Zoo this Christmas include:

Christmas lunch at Oakfield House

Enjoy Christmas Dinner in the house that featured on the BBC drama Our Zoo.

Related: BBC Our Zoo remembered a year on

Oakfield House was the home of zoo founder George Mottershead and his family when he first realised his dream of a ‘zoo without bars’.

The house was the focal point of the six-part series Our Zoo, which was based on his daughter June’s book.

Lee Ingleby (George Mottershead) in Our Zoo with Amelia Clarkson (his daughter Mew) and Liz White (Lizzie Mottershead) outside Oakfield House

Christmas lunch will be served at the house on Saturday, December 5 and Sunday, December 6.

How much?

Price for zoo members is: £15 for 2 courses and £17.50 for 3 courses, non-members (does not include zoo admission): £17.50 for 2 courses and £20 for 3 courses, children: £10 for 2 courses and £12.50 for 3 courses.

Father Christmas Story Time

Santa himself will be reading stories to children at Oakfield House and will help little ones make a gift for local wildlife, before presenting each children with a gift to take home. The experience will be most enjoyable for children under seven.

The experience is approximately 20 minutes in duration and admission to the zoo is not included in the ticket.

Places, at £6.99 per child are strictly limited to 15 children per session and you’ll need to book in advance.

Wild Winter Experience

A special Christmas treat for schools and groups who love local wildlife includes a torchlight walk through the zoo’s enchanted wood. You will hear tales of life in the forest and learn all about native woodland creatures.

Children will also get the chance to meet Father Christmas telling stories in Oakfield House. The children will also get a chance to make a Christmas gift for local wildlife.

The Wild Winter Experience is only available for schools or groups of 15 - 20 children when booked as part of a group visit.

Prices are £40 for schools, £50 for groups with a maximum of 20 children per session.

The event is most suitable for children aged seven and under and the price does not include admission to the zoo.

Schools: To book or for more information please call 01244 389 444 or 01244 650 205.

Groups: To book or for more information please call 0870 720 1507 or email groups@chesterzoo.org

Find out more about Christmas at Chester Zoo here.